The MHEDA Journal - Second Quarter, 2013 - (Page 46)

HUMAN WORK ETHIC RESOURCES Employers Must Pick Up the Slack, Instill Work Ethic in the Emerging Workforce BY ERIC CHESTER P ull any material handling equipment distributor aside and ask him or her to describe the emerging frontline workforce and terms like ‘entitled’ and ‘poor work ethic’ will enter into the conversation. I interact with thousands of managers each year, and this I can say with certainty. At a large management conference last spring, a regional training manager for a large restaurant chain lamented to me, “The work ethic has gotten so bad that our people are in the perpetual mode of trying to get something for nothing!” Getting something for nothing isn’t bad, evil or immoral. Who doesn’t appreciate a little good fortune coming their way? However, when finding ways to separate effort from reward becomes a passionate pursuit, any treasure obtained in the process is marginalized. There was a time when achievement meant more than possessions, and when character (a person’s qualities) was valued more than achievement. Americans felt good about putting in an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. This was the time when “Made in America” was the best label any product could bear, quality was everyone’s priority and companies made decisions to ensure long-term 46 MHEDA | stability – not short-term gains for stockholders. I’m north of 50 and I remember that time. My four children (ages 26 to 31) don’t. They’ve grown up in a world where most people work hard to find ways of avoiding hard work. They’ve heard stories telling how lottery winners, day traders, bloggers, dot-commers and Internet marketers have managed to beat the system and derive a huge bounty with little or no effort. They’ve been inundated with reality television that turns talentless fools into millionaires in the blink of an eye and with the greatest of ease. To them, an apprentice is not a young worker learning a trade at the foot of a master craftsman, but rather a devious schemer finagling to get a co-worker fired by Donald Trump. Is it any wonder there is a burgeoning entitlement mentality among the new workforce? Work has degenerated to little more than a four-letter word, a necessary evil. It’s no longer viewed as something to be proud of, but something to disdain, to shortcut or to elude all together. Employers can no longer afford to play employee roulette, gambling on the chances that they can find good people who’ve already learned a proper work ethic at home or at school. Parents now focus most of their attention on ensuring that their kids are healthy, happy and have a high selfesteem. Meanwhile, schools are facing widespread criticism and massive cutbacks and are concentrating every available resource on increasing test scores and keeping students safe. So who’s teaching Johnny to work? Obviously, the burden of developing work ethic within the emerging workforce has shifted to employers, i.e. owners, managers, supervisors and trainers. Organizations that neglect this responsibility typically end up pointing the finger at parents and schools for the unsatisfactory product they are getting. But that does nothing to correct the problem and it exacerbates negative expectations. Work Ethic, by the Book Webster’s states that work requires activity, the exertion of energy, the process of doing. Ethic, it tells us, is based upon “ethos” or the knowledge of what is right and what is wrong. So, simply stated, work ethic is knowing what to do and doing it. What is it that every employee in every job in every industry needs to know and to do (take action on)? I’ve personally asked more than 1,500

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The MHEDA Journal - Second Quarter, 2013

President’s Perspective
From the Desk of Liz Richards
Ask Your Board
MHEDA Member Profile
At Work
The Next Economic Cycle
In Case of Emergency – Disaster-Proofing Your Supply Chain
Annual Convention
Convention Program
Exhibitors' Showcase Floor plan
Absorption Measures Performance and Sustainability
Exhibitors’ Showcase Product Guide
The Parachute Congress Made
Get Your Game On
An Expert, Advisor, Resource and Single Point of Contact
What Looks Good on Paper
Instilling Work Ethic in the Emerging Workforce
How to Get People to Do What You Want Them to Do
Search Engine Marketing Value Proposition
New Members
Spotlight on Association News
MHEDA University Calendar
MHEDA Milestones
New Products
Index of Advertisers by Product Category

The MHEDA Journal - Second Quarter, 2013